THE cricket season is well and truly underway both in the professional and amateur game.
First league games have been played and there’s always that sense of trepidation when turning up to game one, and no amount of practise can prepare you fully for an actual match.
Are the new players going to settle in and are they as good as they appeared when they joined the club? What are the opposition going to be like? Same as last year or will they have recruited some players and stuff you out of site?
The same things go through every cricketer’s minds during April of ever year, whether they make a living out of the game or not.
Sussex have been on a recruitment drive this winter signing four totally new players and one who played a little last year. Lou Vincent (a New Zealander who now lives in the UK and has played at a number of counties in the past), Amjad Khan (Danish, but eligible for England and played in a Test match in the West Indies), Kirk Wernars (South African youngster, but has a Dutch passport so can play as an EU member), Naved Arif (Pakistani bowler who has married a Danish woman so qualifies to play in England but isn’t classed as overseas) and Lewis Hatchett (Shoreham lad, former maths student of mine, good prospect as a cricketer and not bad at maths either).
What do you notice about those new signings?
They are all good players is the first thing, and I’m sure that Sussex beat off strong competition for these players’ signatures. The lack of local lads is the next point, though, which obviously isn’t so good.
Sussex has one of the best, if not the best, youth set-ups in the country and is the envy of other counties, but by making these signings are the county sending out the right message to these youngsters?
It’s a debate that will run and run in all sports. Sussex won promotion as champions of Division Two of the County Championship last season and want to maintain their top flight status this season, if not win something.
Therefore the county must go out and make the best signings that it can, wherever those players are from.
On the other hand, only two of the five new signings are eligible for England at the moment (although if the others hang around for long enough they will be eventually too), and in theory the domestic game is there to provide the England team with quality players to compete at the top level. We’ll see what happens, but I never get as excited about a Jonathan Trott hundred as I do an Ian Bell one. Maybe that’s just me.
It has been an up-and-down start for Sussex, though, with a stuffing at the hands of Lancashire, a nervy win against Durham and a character-filled draw against Lancashire again so far in the championship, plus a couple of limited overs games.
They will be glad to get their skipper Michael Yardy back from his time out with depression, though, and so will the fans, including myself. He’s a nice bloke and a good player so can only strengthen the side, and I’m sure that everyone wishes him the best this season.
It’s been a time of change for Worthing Cricket Club, too, as we welcome in a new captain and a few new players of quality. With a win in our first game this will hopefully be a sign of things to come and maybe promotion to the Premier League in Sussex. Fingers crossed!